“In The Trenches”
Johnson Vs. Watson
Johnson Vs. Watson
East Recruiting Analyst
Posted Apr 13, 2005
Bob Lichtenfels, SteelCitySports.com

Over the next two months Scout.com will be traveling the nation in search of the top prospects. We will have the chance to see players who will be nominated for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and Underclassmen who will be the stars of tomorrow. At times, you will also see an under dog, someone who wasn’t on the radar who comes to the combine and puts themselves on the map.

I personally get the chance to coach the offensive and defensive linemen at each combine. After each combine I’ll present my personal evaluation of what we saw “In the trenches”, this will focus on the big boys. The guys who don’t get the press, but they are responsible for a large amount of a team’s success. My first report comes on the heels of our first of twelve combines. Our first combine was held on Sunday, April 10th at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Offensive Line: From the time he registered you could see stardom written all over the million dollar smile of Durham (N.C.) Southern offensive tackle Carl Johnson. The All-American candidate checked in at 6-foot-5, 347-pounds, he clocked in with a 5.48 forty. Johnson’s forty time is not alarming, considering it was run on a slow artificial surface, and was professionally timed. His other measurables included a 4.75 shuttle, which was tops among the offensive linemen and even more impressive considering he was the biggest athlete in attendance. He had a 29” vertical, which was the third best among the linemen, the top two jumps were by linemen that weigh almost 100-pounds less then Johnson. Johnson had a time of 8.43 in the 3-cone drill which was tops among the linemen. He also finished with an 80” standing broad jump.

During the one-on-one portion of the combine, everyone wanted to test their skill’s against Johnson. One by one Johnson sent them back to the line disappointed. Johnson did receive a stern test from South Aiken, (S.C) speed rusher DeKoda Watson who managed to split with Johnson most of the day. Johnson is a remarkable athlete, but an even more amazing young man, so congenial and well-spoken. The kid had a smile on his face all day long; it’s very refreshing to see a player truly enjoy the game.

Scouting Report:Johnson is extremely light on his feet, and agile. He has enough athleticism to be a tackle or a guard at the next level. He uses his leverage well, he delivers a blow and locks on, and often driving would be defenders into the turf or riding them out of the pocket until the whistle blows. He stays nice and square, and has tremendous flexibility. Johnson is very explosive off the line of scrimmage, and has no trouble getting to the next level to seal off defenders.

One offensive lineman who actually got better as the day progressed was Lovingston (Va.) Nelson County lineman B.J. Cabbell, 6-foot-4, 300-pounds. Cabbell is very intriguing because he is so raw, but he is determined and learns well on the fly. He had a little trouble early on, but once he adjusted his feet, and learned to stay on his toes he was a new man. Cabell’s testing numbers were not among the top at his position, but he excelled at one on one’s. He posted a (5.16) shuttle, (24”) vertical, (9.32) 3-cone drill, (5.79) 40-yard dash, and a (77”) standing broad jump.

Scouting Report: Cabbell opened up very quickly, and delivered quick arm punches, constantly pushing would be pass rushers away. He is a very coachable player. Cabbell will probably be best suited as an interior lineman at either guard or center. He is very raw, but picks up on things quickly. I see tremendous upside in this prospect. He needs to work on his explosion off the ball, and his foot speed.

Every offensive line group has the “Silent, but Violent” type, the quiet kid who just goes about his business with a nasty demeanor. Washington (D.C) St. Johns College offensive lineman Mike Ward was this guy at Duke. At 6-foot-3, 294 pounds, Ward is a technician. He gets inside on a defender, and uses his amazing leverage, and low center of gravity to gain control. Ward buried a few defenders into the synthetic turf at Duke on Sunday. Ward posted a (5.49) 40-yard dash, (5.04) shuttle, (27”) vertical, (8.81) 3-cone drill, and a (83”) standing broad jump.

Scouting Report: Ward is a prototype guard, strong and nasty. He delivers a quick punch, and locks on like a pit-bull. Very cerebral and anticipates well. He stays low, and uses his low center of gravity to his advantage.

Defensive Line:

What more can be said about South Aiken (S.C.) defensive end DeKoda Watson. Watson set the bar for defensive ends in my eyes, although I see him as an edge rusher at outside linebacker in college. I would estimate Watson took over 25 reps in the one on one drills and was stopped four times, two of those stymies occurred after he was exhausted. Watson even took it to big Carl Johnson a few times; both players developed a tremendous respect for one another by the end of the day. It was truly one of those match-ups that make me love my job that much more; it was an honor to watch these two gladiators in action. Watson posted a (4.77) 40-yard dash, (4.53) shuttle, (37”) vertical, (7.97) 3-cone drill, and a (113”) standing broad jump.

Scouting Report:Watson is one of the most explosive defenders off the edge that I have seen anywhere. He anticipates the snap count, and explodes on movement. Watson is amazingly strong for his size. He can bull-rush you or use technique to finesse you off the edge. I see him an edge rusher at outside linebacker at the next level.

One dark horse prospect that may not have dominated during the one on ones, but tested extremely well was Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt defensive end Leon Hudson. Like Watson, Hudson will likely project as a linebacker in college. Hudson checked in at 6-foot-0, 209-pounds, he had a (4.73) 40-yard dash, (4.53) shuttle, (37.5”) vertical, (7.75) 3-cone drill, and a (113”) standing broad jump, all were tops among defensive linemen.

Scouting Report: Hudson will likely project as a linebacker at the next level. He has good lateral quickness, and comes off the line of scrimmage well. He needs to work on his overall strength.

One class of 2007 prospect worth mentioning is Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College defensive end Tony Tucker. Tucker checked in at 6-foot-1, 212-pounds, He registered a 4.99 40-yard dash, 4.58 shuttle, 29.5” vertical, 7.87 3-cone drill, 84” vertical. Tucker improved throughout the day as his confidence grew.

Scouting Report: Its still way to early to project where Tucker where end up, it all depends on his growth over the next year. He has a nice frame, and long arms. He is a very instinctive young prospect. Tucker needs to develop more explosiveness, which will likely come with the maturation process.

Next week’s report will cover the offensive and defensive linemen that attend the Scout.com combine in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, April 17th.

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